Inspectors survey ladder truck that injured 3 firefighters

Inspectors survey ladder truck that injured 3 firefighters

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TJ Elliott, Will Griffin and Stephen Jackson (left to right) TJ Elliott, Will Griffin and Stephen Jackson (left to right)

Inspectors were on site Thursday afternoon trying to figure out what went wrong with a ladder truck that seriously injured three Hall County firefighters during a training exercise Tuesday.

Will Griffin, TJ Elliott and Stephen Jackson were about 80 feet in the air on a ladder truck when the ladder retracted causing the men to fall about 40 feet.

Original reports indicated the men were about 75 feed in the air when the incident happened.

According to the Hall County Fire Department, there was some type of mechanical failure which caused the issue to happen.

The incident has caused other fire departments like Gwinnett County to put the trucks out of service.

The truck is made by the Sutphen Corporation in Ohio. Within hours of the accident, the company told all fire departments to take the particular model truck out of service until further notice.

“Basically what they said is take them out of service, don’t use them as an elevated platform, the ladder, the part that fell,” said DeKalb Fire Rescue Chief Darnell Fullum.

FOX 5 has learned this isn’t the first time the Sutphen Corporation has had problems with aerial platform trucks, like the one from this particular incident. In June a similar accident occurred in Pennsylvania and three firefighters were injured during a rapid descent. The company also issued a recall late last year due to what the company called a “possible sudden retraction of vehicle’s ladder.”

The president of Sutphen Corporation released the following statement:

“In light of the recent incidents, we recognize there is an immediate need to take precautionary action. I would rather take every precaution necessary than to put our firefighters at risk.”

Hall County fire officials say the families of the injuries firefighters are holding up and are grateful to the community for all the donations and support.

SKYFOX 5 captured images of the scene.

Other firefighters had to get in a second ladder truck and go up to reach the injured men.

"The firefighters free fall was about 24 feet," said Hall County Fire Marshall Scott Cagle. "When the ladder stopped, that sudden jolt is what caused the injuries to the firefighters." New reports indicate the men fell about 44 feet and injuries include bad bruises and broken bones.

Two of the men were airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital and the third was rushed by ground ambulance to Northeast Medical Center. All three men were alert and talking.

Fire officials tell FOX 5 the three men are in stable condition. One underwent back surgery Wednesday and the other two will undergo surgery on Thursday and Friday.

Hall County bought the ladder less than a year ago. Officials say they've never had a problem with it.

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